New Cynsations Reporter Linda Joy Singleton

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Linda Joy Singlton joins the Cynsations team as an at-large reporter covering children’s-YA writing, illustration, publishing and other book news from the world of children’s literature.

Welcome to Cynsations! Could you tell us about your vision for your coverage here at the blog? Why did you decide to take on this role in the conversation of books?

Cynsations has been so supportive of my books over many years, and I really admire the blog. It was an honor to be invited to join the team! Thanks for the opportunity to share interesting and entertaining articles on my favorite topic—books.

Just a few of Linda’s titles.

Of course you’re also an accomplished author in your own right! Could you update us on your creative life?

I write books, I read books and I collect juvenile series books (I have a home library of over 5,000 books!). My brain always buzzes in creative mode.

Before I was a writer, one day my supervisor came over and sternly asked, “Do you realize you been staring into space for ten minutes?”

Of course, I said no and apologized. But looking back I realize I was just preparing for my real job—as a writer. So to all writers who stare into space as if doing nothing, you are working.

Turning “nothing” into words is hard work.

I am a morning person so I do my best writing early. This has become harder since I also try to get to the gym by 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. So,I often write around 6 a.m. I always start off by rewriting the previous chapter from where I left off, which often takes so much time I only add a few new pages. But every few pages adds up eventually into a completed book.

Amicus Ink

My nonfiction picture book, Crane & Crane (Amicus) was released in 2019 and received some wonderful reviews. The illustrator, Richard Smythe, created gorgeous art for both bird and construction crane. In fact, I’m going to be reading this book to kids at the Lodi, California; Sandhill Crane Festival in November.

Also, I sold another picture book! It’s a companion story to Crane & Crane titled Sun and Son (Amicus, 2021).

And coming soon is my four-book series called Haunted Holidays from ABDO Books for educational markets. The art is so cute! I can’t wait to read these books to kids when I speak at schools and libraries.

When I started writing, I wrote for packagers and small presses. I said yes to every opportunity. And mostly I still do, but I’d rather not write a book without my name on it. While money is a goal, it’s more important for me to gain name recognition.

And since it takes many months to write a novel—sometimes a year—I enjoy writing my own ideas the best. My strong point is mysterious series books, so that’s what I’m working on now. Luckily, my Curious Cat Spy Club series (Albert Whitman) is still finding new fans. And I have CCSC activities and a Save the Cats board game kids and educators can download for free on my website.

I’m currently writing a middle-grade novel which I hope will be the first in a series about a small town girl solving big-time crime. Many writers can create a rough draft quickly, but it’s hard for me to go on until the words feel just right. My agent is submitting this series proposal, and if (when!) it sells, I will skip some mornings at the gym until I finish the book. Fortunately, since I know the characters well now, the next books will go much quicker.

Aside from writing a hopeful series, occasionally I’ll accept a writing opportunity (like stories I wrote for a popular app). Or I’ll get a great idea for a picture book that I must immediately write.

There are public appearances, too. Within the next two months, I’ll speak and sign books at the Great Valley Book Fest, California Reading Association, and a castle holiday fair. Each event involves many emails, planning trips out of town, preparing talks, organizing books to bring, and printing bookmarks. Lots of details to juggle—but it’s worth it! I love surrounding myself with books and readers.

As a reader, what are two of the top children’s-YA books of your heart, those you’d lovingly place in the hands of kids of your own family and community?

Only two? I fall in love with new books regularly.

I’m obsessed with Harry Potter (by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury U.K., 1997)) so that’s one series I’d recommend to any child. In fact, I read them to my son as they were being published.

As a family, we once hiked three miles from a campground to get the newest Harry Potter book. And most recently, I read the first few books to my grandson⁠—until I got a bad cold and couldn’t read, so we listened to the rest of the series on audio. A wonderful experience!

Little, Brown Young Readers

And I’ve fallen in love with a middle-grade series that is so wonderful that I’m shocked the world isn’t buzzing about it: Nevermoor: Trials of Morrigan Crow (by Jessica Townsend (Little, Brown, 2017)) has excitement, unique magic and heart.

The second book (Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Little, Brown 2018)) is just as delightful. And I would trade something precious to get an advanced copy of the third book (Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Little, Brown, 2020)). I’m sure it’ll be a movie someday and readers will fall in love with Morrigan like I have.

What makes them so special?

The characters touch my heart, twists surprise me, wondrous magic and the satisfying endings make me want another book.

What do you hope for the future of publishing for kids and teens?

I have heard that kids still prefer paper books, although audio and e-books are popular, too. But younger kids are amazing readers and like to hold a physical book. So, despite the popularity of electronic devices, kids continue to love books. And as a writer, my job is to provide exciting, interesting, and fun books for them. This is a honor and an obligation that I take very seriously. Readers are a treasure, and we need to nurture their love for books.

There are already so many amazing books coming out, I can hardly keep up with my to-be-read shelf! I’d love to see more kids excited about reading and more places to buy books. I’d love to see books in all the places kids can easily find them. I truly believe books are magic.

Cynsational Notes

Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 50 books for children, including Curious Cat Spy ClubThe Seer (Llewellyn/Flux) and Dead Girl series (North Star Editions). She’s also written picture books, her most recent are Crane and Crane (Chronicle),  Lucy Loves Goosey (Simon & Schuster) and A Cat Is Better (Little Bee Books).

She wrote her first animal story when she was eight, dreaming of being a published author—and that dream came true!

She’s a longtime member of SCBWI and Sisters in Crime, a frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and conferences.

She lives in the Northern California foothills, surrounded by a menagerie of animals, including dogs, cats, peacocks, horses and pigs.

Linda’s cats